As I mentioned in a post on this web site last week, a friend of mine gave me some Tanzanian Mbeya beans as a gift.  As I am not very familiar with African coffees, I tested them first against the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans I described last week.  While the Yirgacheffe were brightly floral in flavor, the Mbeya were distinctly subdued.  In fact, they reminded me more of the Guatemalan Huehuetenango that, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve come to favor.  So yesterday and today I performed two side-by-side taste tests: I first compared the Mbeya beans against the Yirgacheffe; I then compared the Mbeya beans against the Huehuetenango.

Mbeya, Tanzania

For each side-by-side test my taste-testing method was the same.  I ground enough coffee beans for four 6 ounce cups of coffee for each type of coffee (approximately two tablespoons per 6 ounce cup), grinding the beans for 15 seconds in my blade grinder, which produced a fairly fine though not powdery grind.  I added five 6 ounce cups of water to my Mr. Coffee-type drip maker, ending up with four 6 ounce cups of coffee.  I drink 10 ounce cups of coffee, so I ended up with two and a half of each type.  Yesterday, I started with the Yirgacheffe.  I drank one and a half 10 ounce cups to familiarize myself with the flavor, saving the last 10 ounce cup for side-by-side comparison.  Then I brewed the Mbeya and drank one and a half 10 ounce cups side-by-side the Yirgacheffe.  Today, I started with the Huehuetenaango, then brewed the Mbeya.
As described last week, the Yirgacheeffe is brightly floral, a totally new coffee experience for me. This quality of the coffee has to do largely I believe with the wet-processing of the Yirgacheffe. The Mbeya is, however, subdued and smooth and earthly, not unlike the Huehuetenango.  This was confirmed by today’s side-by-side tasting.  The similarity could well be the result of the fact that both beans are grown at high altitudes in rich, volcanic soil.  The Mbeya is just a touch blander and I still prefer the Huehuetenango as my coffee of choice.
My friend also gave me some Peruvian coffee as a gift.  Perhaps next week or the week after I’ll report on a taste testing of this against the Huehuetenango in my never ending quest for more and more wonderful coffees.

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